Friday, July 31, 2009

1349 - Revelations Of The Black Flames

The blitzkrieg that was 2005’s “Hellfire” was something of a wake-up call for the suffocated black metal scene, welding together lightning fast tempos and almost Mayhem-ic sense of atmosphere to truly spellbinding effect.Anything with Frost behind the drums seems to reflect the extent of the Norwegian's raw pace and vast experience in the field, but what stands out on the new 1349 album is the influence of the sludgier side of co-mixer Tom Gabriel Fischer.Cutting to the point this album- Revelations of the Black Flame is not the 1349 that you may be accustomed to. Lurching uncomfortably between sub death-metal and ambient styles this makes for an excruciating listening non-experience.

The new direction yields interesting moments, but the end result is uneven. There seems to be a conscious effort to move away from what made 1349 one of the best bands in second wave of Norwegian black metal.Black metal acts known for a certain sound can change direction. The best example of this is Satyricon. On “Now, Diabolical,” frontman Satyr introduced a new style detractors claimed was perilously close to arena rock. Perhaps the biggest issue of Revelations is that 1349 doesn’t sound like the same band. The band plays bracing black metal in the classic Norwegian template and does it better than most contemporaries. Does this mean they can’t experiment and change their style? Of course not. But it’s hard to find 1349 here outside of a few tracks like. “Maggot Fetus, Teeth of Thorns,” which is uncompromising and fast as hell.

To put it plainly, Revelations of the Black Flame is a terrible album. Only half of it is music, and only half of that is good. It didn't take long for me to wish for the 1349 of old. It may have been bland but it wasn' wasn't this. Much of the album is marred by pointless, meandering tracks such as “Misanthropy” – a track that begins with a piano riff before descending into a blur of incoherent guitar chords and random piano plinking – and “Horns”, which is 3 minutes of wind noises and little else. Even when the band threatens to play an actual song the listener is often left sitting through minutes of throwaway “ambience” to get there “Invocation” fills three of its first six minutes with pointless yelping and wind noises and “Serpentine Sibilance” plods around aimlessly for three minutes before wasting its final sixty seconds on a nonsequitur, punk-infused mess.That being said, neither track is particularly enticing, they're just welcome alternatives to what follows: an unnecessary Pink Floyd cover (Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun), three and a half more minutes of disposable “ambiance” (this time in the form of crackles and droning guitars) and “At the Gate...”, 7 minutes of buzzing, whispering and the occasional bout of half-assed Root plagiarism. “Maggot Fetus…Teeth Like Thorns” and “Uncreation” are the album's undisputed highlights, the former carrying a heavy retro-thrash influence and the latter a sprawling, mid-paced 7 minute track that surprisingly employs little to no synthesized throwaways.

Clearly the first 10 minutes might make you seriously considering the option of downing somehard liquor before proceeding on with the album. With Tom Fischer, 1349 totally let go of their massive blitzkrieg on which they have build their stance upon. Focusing more on ambience has clearly led off to to a different a rather unwanted direction. After this all you can hope is to keep your finger gods and pray to your demon that they dont come out with another parody like this in their next album.

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